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We are sad to see the Chatel pool being demolished. However, this is making way for a brand new aquatic due to open in summer 2014. And if this video is anything to go by, it should be very impressive!
For most skiers, the slow but steady arrival of the warmer spring weather means the inevitable reality of shelving ski dreams for another year and finding other ways to kill time until the season comes around again. For the more dedicated snow-hounds out there however, the spring months bring nothing less than glorious weather, shorter lift lines, fewer crowds and lower prices – all of which add up to ski nirvana, just as long as you know where to go.
However, those looking to dip their proverbial toe in the latter category for the first time must be aware of the fact that springtime skiing brings a series of hazards most will probably not have come across during the winter months – the following examples are by far the most worthy of attention:
1. Conditions – During spring, the snow on the slopes and around the resorts is prone to melting in the day and then freezing again overnight, which can in turn lead to some seriously unpredictable conditions in terms of ice, water and so on. Never take conditions for granted from one hour to the next.
2. Sunburn – It might still be nippy to a certain extent, but the sun is stronger and the snow still reflects a ton of harmful rays to hugely increase the likelihood of sunburn. In spring, put on the sunscreen you think you need and then add another layer just in case!
3. Falls – That being said, if the weather does take a turn for the warmer and you find yourself tempted to shed a few layers, don’t forget that snow and ice can have a cheese-grater effect on your skin if you fall at speed – especially where melting snow has re-frozen into rough spikes. Keep skin
covered up as much as possible.
4. Layers – The temperature on the slopes during the spring can change massively and in a matter of hours, making it important to know how to
dress on order to be able to adapt. The best advice is to always layer up and thus be able to adjust, rather than donning just a single thick-layer or
5. Thinner Snow – Be aware of the fact that as the snow thins, various hazards like roots, stumps, holes and so on will once again rear their
heads – never take a run for granted even if you’ve tackled it dozens of times in the winter.
6. Avalanches – Extreme perhaps, but spring can be peak avalanche season as the snow begins to melt, shift and give way under enormous weight.
Always look into any avalanche warnings and never stray anywhere you’re not supposed to.
7. Eyewear – As the strength of the sun increases, so too do the dangers to your eyes. As such, be sure to choose eyewear that’s guaranteed to filter
out damaging UV rays and wear them at all times.
8. Common Sense – Just because the slopes may be nearly empty, this doesn’t mean that spring is the best season to push yourself to the next
level in terms of high-speed or extreme skiing – the conditions may not be up to handling it.
Some useful top tips from Alps2Alps the airport transfer provider for all your ski transfer needs.
We are almost mid season, and it feels like it hasn’t stopped snowing for weeks! Snow depths in the Portes du Soleil are impressive – nearly 4 m at the top of the domain. And temperatures are low so the snow is staying good.
This season is certainly becoming one to remember. It started off great and has got better ever since. Take a look at Chatel skier Nicolas Cruz Mermy on the Super Chatel opening day – the day after the world was meant to end…
Self catered ski holidays often go hand in hand with self drive holidays. With snow falling again in the Alps and with a cold snap forecast for the UK, now is the perfect time to announce our Winter Driving Survival Kit competition, in partnership with the RAC.
Keeping Safe on Winter Roads
Whether you’re lucky enough to be living in the mountains or not, chances are that you’ll encounter some tricky driving conditions this winter. To help you out we’ve partnered with the RAC, the UK’s leading supplier of breakdown cover to offer you some quick tips to staying safe on the road as well as giving you the chance to win some great winter survival gear.
Winter Driving Tips:
Spending time in the cold trying to dig yourself out of snow or waiting to be rescued is the last thing you want to be doing this winter. Luckily, many of these instances are avoidable by simply taking some simple precautions:
1. Check Your Car – Making sure your car is set up correctly can solve all sorts of issues so remember to check these components before setting out:
i. Car Battery – Batteries are more liable to go flat during the winter months so check them regularly.
ii. Coolant & Screenwash – Make sure both of these are topped up; the coolant needs to contain sufficient anti-freeze and the screenwash should be at the right concentration.
iii. Tyres – Check that the tread on your tyres isn’t too worn. We recommend a depth of at least 3mm.
iv. Wiper Blades – Examine them for damage and be careful when freeing them from your windscreen during icy weather as this can cause damage.
2. Keep These Items In Your Car – Even if you make all the necessary checks and preparations you can’t guarantee that you won’t have some sort of incident. To make sure you’re prepared for multiple eventualities we recommend you keep these supplies in your car at all times:
o Ice scrapper and de-icer
o Torch and spare batteries – or a wind-up torch
o Warm clothes and blankets – for you and all passengers
o Boots with grip
o First aid kit
o Jump start cables
o Food and a warm drink in a thermos
o Reflective warning sign
o Road atlas
o Sunglasses – the glare off the snow can be dazzling
o In-car mobile phone charger
3. Adjust Your Driving Style – Ice and snow covered roads are much more sensitive so even if you’re not a naturally aggressive driver it’s still important to heed these tips. You need to accelerate gently and change up to a higher gear quickly to avoid spinning your wheels. If you suffer from wheel spin when trying to get moving, try changing into second gear. It goes without saying that there is much less grip on icy roads; in fact did you know that you may need up to 10 times the normal stopping distance between yourself and the car in front?
Be wary about driving in the tracks of other cars – the snow is more compact and can be icier. If you do encounter a skid, drive into it to regain control and refrain from slamming on the brakes. For example, if the rear of your car is sliding to the right, steer right. And don’t be caught out by the sun – low winter sun combined with white snow can cause dazzling glare so always take a pair of sunglasses with you.
Follow these tips and your chances of arriving at your destination safe and sound will sky rocket. However, you can never remove the risk of an incident completely so we recommend taking out breakdown cover, just to be safe.
To make sure you’re prepared if you do breakdown in the cold we’re giving away some winter essentials, courtesy of the RAC:
o A Winter Driving Kit
o Rud Shoe Chains
o A Foldable Snow Shovel
We’re offering you various different ways to enter – each way gives you one entry.
Okay, so you’ve decided to take yourself off on your very first skiing holiday. You’re no doubt in for the most fantastic time, but before you go make sure you’ve got all those necessary essentials in place. For a little ‘icespiration’ (see what we did there) here’s a quick guide of what to pack.
You’ll need to wear lots of layers as it’s likely to be very chilly out there! Keep warmth and comfort at the forefront on your mind when packing, making sure you pop some items of breathable clothing in your suitcase to wear on top of the layers. Don’t worry about being too hot, you can simply peel off a layer if needs be. Remember, it’s easier to remove a layer than it is to add one.
Here’s a clothing checklist:
- Thermal vests
- Long sleeved t-shirts
- Fleecy tops
- Ski pants or salopettes
- Insulated, waterproof gloves
- Woolly hat
- Ski goggles, so you can see clearly in case of heavy snow
- Plenty of ski socks. We can’t stress how important ski socks are, there’s nothing worse than cold feet
- Swimwear. If there are Jacuzzis on resort, treat yourself to a warm, bubbly soak after a day of skiing. They’re perfect for relaxing tired, achy muscles
- Evening wear. Don’t forget to pack your best clothes to wear in the evenings
Sun Cream, it’s Not Just for Beach Holidays you Know
You will need to get some strong sun cream slapped on you. Don’t be fooled by the snowy weather. Even on cloudy days, you’ll need to wear the protective lotion to guard yourself against sunburn. Mountain sun, along with the reflection from the snow, is far more intense then normal. Get some good sun cream, of at least factor 25, packed.
Don’t Pay Over the Odds for Ski Gear
When it comes to ski gear, it can prove quite pricey, many skiers tend to rent their equipment instead. But if you want to purchase your own, but don’t want to pay over the odds, you might find some cheap ski gear in some shops, especially if there’s a sale on. But make sure you shop around. Second hand gear is another option, check out some online marketplaces, like eBay.
No Need to Pack Skis and Ski Boots
You don’t need to take equipment, such as skis and ski boots, with you. Even the Mr Snow-it-alls out there know that it’s best to hire these in resort. And remember, the ski boot is the most important item of ski equipment, so make sure the boots fit your feet nice and snugly. Comfort is key.
Follow our above guide to packing and you can’t go wrong. Whether you’re going to be skiing in Meribel, hitting the slopes of Austria or heading to Canada, it’s vital you pack everything you need to. If not, you could end up spending more time in the shops than on the slopes. Happy skiing!
Located in the Northern French Alps, close to Lac Leman, the Portes du Soleil is the largest linked ski area in the world.
Created 40 years ago, this giant ski area straddles the French/Swiss border and brings together 12 resorts in both countries. The international flavour of the domain means that you can start the day eating croissants in France, and lunch on the slopes in Switzerland eating Rosti!
The French resorts which make up the Portes du Soleil are Abondance, Avoriaz, Châtel, La Chapelle d’Abondance, Les Gets, Montriond, Morzine, Avoriaz, St Jean d’Aulps and the Swiss ones are Champéry, Morgins, Torgon, Val-d’Illiez – Les Crosets – Champoussin.
Because the ski area physically covers such a large area, it is perfect for those who like to clock up the miles when on skis. However, each individual resort is well suited for skiers and boarders of all levels. Overall the area’s statistics make for some impressive reading;
283 pistes (27 blacks, 104 reds, 119 blues, 33 green)
197 ski lifts
650 km of pistes
10 dedicated snowparks
90 mountain restaurants
Some Attractions in the Portes du Soleil
Abondance – The ‘Ludoffaz’ play area
The snowy slopes of the ‘Ludoffaz’ in the centre of the village are the ideal place for the whole family to try a huge range of wintersports activities.
Everyone from toddlers to grown-ups can try skiing and snowboarding in an environment where safety comes first. For more thrills there’s sledging (alone or in a chain!), rubber-ring sliding and airboarding for a no-holds-barred ride! For pure enjoyment there’s a ski lift and magic carpet to take you straight back to the top!
Avoriaz – The Stash
Inspired by Northstar Resort in California and developed by Jake Burton… yes, that Jake Burton !
Riders who like having a bit of fun with their mates should check out The Stash in Lindarets forest. The track winds through the woods with all-natural wooden obstacles at regular intervals. Look out for the Flat Log, Rainbow, Step Up and Wall Ride which you can test under the watchful eye of the forest’s yetis…
Hidden routes lie at the forest edge which lead to the secret log cabin where you can carve your own message – chances are you won’t find this cool new riders’ retreat on your first (second or third) run down!
La Chapelle d’Abondance – Cret Beni
The new 6-man Crêt Béni chairlift on the north face of Mont de Grange leads to the plateau which is ideal for beginners. More experienced skiers can rejoin the resort far below at the bottom of the Cerf piste. All visitors should keep an eye out for the wild deer which roam the nature reserve on the slopes of the Abondance valley.
Chatel – Cornebois Happy Park
The Happy Park is on the Cornebois (Linga – Pré-la-Joux – Plaine-Dranse) at 1800m – 2000m.
The park makes use of the hilly terrain to create a ”slopestyle” space more than 800m long – in short, it’s paradise for intermediate and advanced riders with all kinds of boxes, ramps and drop-offs…
Les Gets – The Grand Cry Territory
A playful and educational discovery route for 5-12 year-olds to do with their skis on. Pure fun with red Indians and trappers to see and bumps, woops and raised bends to tackle.
Budding skiers can have their faces painted by the red Indian-entertainers near the teepees half way round the course.
For a perfect end to your visit head for the Trappers’ cabin to attempt the games and musical challenges!
Montriond – Abricotine
Montriond is home to one of the longest runs in the Portes du Soleil: Abricotine. Starting on the peaks marking the French-Swiss border, the piste travels over 8km before arriving at the foot of Ardents cable car. With its blue and red sections Abricotine can be tackled by most skiers; it also has plenty of surprises to keep you focused.
Morzine – Arbis red run from the top of Chamossiere
From the highest point in the Morzine-Les Gets ski range, the Arbis run offers skiing for all abilities and breathtaking views! Link it with the Lievre and Retour des Nants pistes and you’ll be back in the centre of Morzine having covered 8km and a 1000 m descent in one go!
St Jean d’Aulps – At the foot of the Roc d’Enfer
The Roc d’Enfer circuit in Saint Jean d’Aulps is more than 20km of pure pisted pleasure! Departing from the Col de Graydon there’s also a walk around the fabulous Roc d’Enfer with breathtaking unspoilt scenery to explore full of spruces and hamlets.
Champery – Grand Paradis
Quite simply a Portes du Soleil classic. From the Ripaille T-bar ski down this long run that sweeps past farms lying below the stunning Dents Blanches rockface. It’s so tranquil you almost wish it would never end…anyone in search of fresh tracks will find all the untouched powder they’re looking for on the edge of the slope.
Morgins – La Foilleuse
From the centre of Morgins village take the chair up the mountain which will drop you off slap bang in front of the Dents du Midi peaks before you can say ‘abracadabra’. The blue (which is in fact a red!) leading back down to the resort is floodlit 2 nights a week so you can ski underneath the stars…ski touring fans take note: Friday night is traditional climb night!
Torgon – Tronchey Freeride
On the way up this little-known spot appears beneath your skis or board. With its steep ride and excellent snow, it’s a favourite for local riders. From the top of the Tronchey chair you simply point yourself downhill and let the huge powder arcs begin with the Rhone river plain far below to provide a magical contrast…
Val d’Illiez-Les Crosets-Champoussin – The Aiguille des Champeys
Champoussin’s Aiguille des Champeys is a firm favourite for those in search of powder – whatever their level. With its steep ‘n’ deep couloirs and enticing untracked snow at the piste edge there’s a slice of happiness there for all freeriders!
Accommodation in the Portes du Soleil
Accommodation wise, the Portes du Soleil has property for all occasions – from traditional chalets in the beautiful mountain villages, to ski in/ski out apartments in the purpose built high altitude resort of Avoriaz.
We have a huge range of self catered ski accommodation to suit all requirements available to rent in many of the Portes du Soleil’s major resorts. Follow the links to discover our accommodation in: Abondance, Avoriaz, Châtel, La Chapelle d’Abondance, Les Gets, Morzine, Avoriaz, Champéry, Torgon, Val-d’Illiez – Les Crosets – Champoussin.
The Portes du Soleil snow record
The Portes Du Soleil ski area has an enviable snow record. Its proximity to Mont Blanc and Lac Leman creates a micro-climate which means that the area tends to get significant snowfall from the start of December through to when the lifts close in late April.
Because most of the lower slopes are pasture land, depths of 10-20cms are often all that is required to open the pistes, compared with higher altitude resorts where a metre or so is needed to cover the rocks.
Those in the know have long since discovered that the Northern French Alps have some of the best and consistent snow conditions to be found anywhere across Europe. Over the last few seasons, the Portes du Soleil has had fantastic conditions while at the same time the higher and so called “snow sure” resorts in the south of France have been sorely lacking in snow. Come and find out what all the fuss is about…!
Download the Portes du Soleil Piste Map (it’s a big file).
So we have decided to give you a gift when you book your self catered ski accommodation with White-Peak Holidays.
Here is our guide to the 6 “Must Visit” Austrian Ski Resorts for 2013.
1. Obergurgl – For Early Skiing
If you are looking for some healthy skiing before Christmas, then Obergurgl opens its trails in plenty of time and usually has a surprisingly good amount of snow cover to accommodate most ski and snowboarding enthusiasts.
Thanks to its reputation for early snow as well as good accommodation, this is a popular resort for people who want to beat the Christmas rush.
Many travel agents offer special ‘white weeks’ for those able to take advantage of an early season which is ideal if you are on a budget but still want to enjoy some fantastic winter sport.
2. Krippenstein – Avoid The Queues
(Image source: Wikipedia)
Though it can be great to join in with the hoards and hit the most popular of slopes, sometimes a free chairlift and a clear path down the trail is all you really want for a quieter and more laid back experience.
Found on the Dachstien plateau, the draw of Krippensteincomes from its 30 kilometres of off-piste trails and 1,500 meter vertical that appeals to the free riding skier. This leaves the 11 kilometres of beautiful snow covered slopes largely clear of crowds throughout the season and ready to be enjoyed.
Furthermore, a Krippenstien ski pass also provides access to neighbouring resorts including Russbach, Abtenau, Gosau and Annaberg to provide variety and a fresh challenge throughout your trip.
3. Kitzbuhel – for Romance and Beauty
The picture perfect village of Kitzbuhel provides the ideal location for a romantic ski trip in Austria. The traditional architecture and cobblestone streets offer the ultimate picturesque backdrop for any occasion.
Just a gondola ride away from the centre of the town, the slopes suit skiers of all ages and are supported by cross-country tracks for the more adventurous sportsman.
A range of après ski facilities support the romantic notion. Relax in the spa after a hard day on the slopes before taking off on a dreamy sleigh ride to complete the evening. With ice skating facilities and other night time entertainment available as well as a range of restaurants and bars, this could be the ideal place to get away from it all and spend some quality time together.
4. Mayrhofen – Mixing Snowboarding and Skiing
The high quality slopes in the Ziller valley entice both skiers and snowboarders alike and with 620km available within Mayrhofen, this is the largest resort in the surrounding area.
Home to the Hintertux glacier, a Ziller ski pass provides access to a wide range of ski and snowboarding terrain across the entire valley which can be far flung but is well worth the trip.
In recent years Mayrhofen has become incredibly popular with the younger generation thanks to its ‘Snowbombing’ event every April which combines a range of live music with a week long party.
5. Soll – For Great Value
When you are on a tight budget but still want some good quality skiing, Soll in SkiWelt can provide everything you need.
Thanks to heavy investment in recent years, the facilities have now been improved with a focus on snowmaking to improve the reliability of the overall cover.
Though ski facilities are 1km away from the central town the frequent buses ensure that transport, though crowded, should not be a problem.
Family facilities have made this a fantastic alternative for skiing with children while the lively nightlife ensures that this location is also perfect for the younger generation who want to have some fun.
6. Ischgl – the Party Capital
If the après ski is as important as the slopes themselves, then Ischgl can provide a party that will never stop.
At the heart of the Paznuan Village, the resort boasts its own branch of Pacha as well as a Coyote Ugly bar amongst its wide and varied range of nightlife entertainment.
When it is time to hit the slopes, you won’t be left wanting. Ski holidays in Austria boast some outstanding runs for both snowboarders and skiers and Ischgl offers over 330 kilometres of long high pistes that travel across the resort and some even into neighbouring Switzerland.
And with an extended season due to the availability of late snow, Ischgl is a great way to combine the exhilaration of the slopes with a fantastic party atmosphere.
We don’t often get this excited by accommodation, but this is just, “WOW”. Staying on the piste in Zermatt, Iglu Dorf is the best in luxury ice living.
Located at 2727 m high, above Zermatt and on the piste, the accommodation is cosy and romantic, and the holiday village benefits from an ice bar, fully catered half board services, and whirlpool.
Access to the Iglu village is by ski lift. This really is a once in a lifetime experience.